Music to give life, 4…

Nothing opens me up like a three (or more) part harmony. Those moments when a melody lift and soar into the stratosphere will almost always be carried there by polyphony. Yesterday, some dear friends of ours took us out for the evening in Glasgow. We ate Iranian food and then went to see a gospel choir singing- massed ranks of voices pulsing and harmonising. Perhaps heaven really will be like this because who wants to play harps for eternity anyway?

The music I want to offer you today however, is not gospel music, but something different- 4 men from Boston who sing what might described as ‘folk-pop’, who call themselves Darlingside.

Despite my commitment to keep hopefulness front and centre of this blog through this year, the song I have chosen, at first glance, might be seen to be rather dystopian. Here is what they say about the album it comes from;

“It’s over now / The flag is sunk / The world has flattened out,” are the first words of Extralife, the new album by Boston-based quartet Darlingside. While the band’s critically acclaimed 2015 release Birds Say was steeped in nostalgia and the conviction of youth, Extralife grapples with dystopian realities and uncertain futures. Whether ambling down a sidewalk during the apocalypse or getting stuck in a video game for eternity, the band asks, sometimes cynically, sometimes playfully: what comes next? Their erstwhile innocence is now bloodshot for the better.

The song is like a stiletto wrapped in silk, but in my defence it does not leave me without hope.

On the one hand, it might remind us that without mankind, the wild things of the planet will do just fine. Rivers will run clean, forests will regenerate, wild creatures will no longer be crowded and fenced into shrinking corners of the world. The seas will swallow all that plastic in sediment.

It might remind us too that without wild things, we are buggered. The 70% decline in insect life is not just a disaster for insects and birds, it is a disaster for us too, because we are the top of the ecosystem. We depend on them, they do not depend on us.

So where is the hope? The hope is in the sublime beauty of this song; how it carries our humanity. How it displays our ability to love and value the very place that we are destroying.

Because perhaps we have to be able to imagine a world without us in order to once more realise that we are part of the world, not separate from it.

And just to prove they can do it live

Someday a shooting star is gonna shoot me down
Burn these high rises back into a ghost town
Of iridium-white clouds
Matted close against the ground
While the sky hangs empty as a frame

See the reddening horizon line
Feel the planet spilling on the space time
On the way down Somerset I take pictures of cement
For the history books on Mother Earth

To the west now it begins
In the sound waves in the wind
There is an echo going by
Of the mountains caving in
And the parted roads and I
Knew that one day we would die
And become smooth and old again
Like the ash that sweeps the sky

Someday a shooting star is gonna shoot me down
Burn these high rises back into a ghost town

There’s holy water lying in the crater well
Heavy metals high test gasoline
Blessed singularity
A telescoping memory
Where the sky still flickers through the leaves

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